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Posts Tagged ‘conservatives’

I love this column by Daniel Akst –  in today’s Oregonian, headlined “Switch channels, just once a week,” but here on a Republican American site (which took a lot of digging, since Newsday, where Akst is a columnist, wants registration and subscription information and I just can’t bring myself to subscribe to one more thing) headlined “Test your leanings; get 2nd opinion.” 

Here’s an excerpt:

“…now that left and right are once again at full strength on cable, there’s still one thing to wish for: that at least once a week, the two sides would trade audiences.  I say this because for a while now it’s been so each for each of us to live inside an echo chamber, insulated from anything but our own convictions and preconceptions… Instead of just sorting themselves into ideological ghettos, Americans are doing the same thing residentially.  It’s a sad fact, to embrace each side’s caricature of the other, that your Birkenstock-wearing, latte-swilling liberals increasingly huddle together in like-minded communities, just as your gun-toting, Bible-thumping conservative are doing... The Internet is making it even easier to protect ourselves from inconvenient facts or opinions.”

In my classes and training workshops, I’ve always recommended reading media on the far right, the far left, and everything in between, because somewhere in there is a balance.  But when you add to that the fact that if something is repeated often enough, people believe it – then there are times when trying to get the truth to shine through all the clutter is difficult indeed.

How can we produce new generations who are committed to learning, exploring and expanding their worlds?  Who are willing to move out of their comfort zones?  Whose parents and teachers hold up a much larger view of the world than their favorite TV channels or online entertainment sources might provide?

I would love any feedback.

 

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Last Saturday, Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts wrote an article entitled “Get Ready for Conservative Bible” – http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/columnists/story/1287092.html.  The column appeared in this morning’s Oregonian, my daily newspaper.  Pitts makes a more universal point in talking about the fact that the Conservapedia web site is “correcting” the Bible according to conservative principles and interpretations.  That point is this: we are becoming a society where we only have to listen to, or read, information with which we agree.  Here’s how Pitts puts it in his column: 

“Rather than trust those beliefs to stand or fall in the free market of ideas, some conservatives now apply a kind of intellectual protectionism. So now you have your conservative newspaper, your conservative radio station, your conservative university, your conservative “facts” and, apparently, your conservative God, and you may build yourself a conservative life in a conservative bubble where you need never contend with ideas that challenge, contradict — or refine — your own.

“But here’s the thing: When no authority can be regarded as unimpeachable by both right and left, when no fact can be universally accepted as such, when anything you prefer not to believe is automatically dismissed as a product of “bias,” you impoverish intellect and render informed debate impossible.”

Those of us engaged in tracking new media and teaching it; those of us engaged in public communication of any type, whether making a living or just following trends, have been worried about this for a long time.  No, not worried about conservatives taking over the universe; worried about the larger point of how people are tuning out information, opinions and dialogue with which they disagree.  Complicating the issue is that it had become increasingly difficult to sort out truth from opinion from entertainment.  Witness the mainstream media last week, falling for the story of a complete 180-degree turn by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on its position regarding climate change:  http://theplumline.whorunsgov.com/climate-change/whoops-reuters-acknowledges-that-hoax-story-on-climate-change-could-have-moved-financial-markets/ 

News moves at warp speed anymore, and in trying to keep up, much of which passes for news is just not credible stuff.  How do we educate our young people to have discerning minds without turning them into complete cynics?  How do we once again grow a country which is intellectually rigorous and willing to consider different information which may actually change our minds?  These are questions we’ll be having to answer for a long time in the future.

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